Gender Reel's Founder & Chair, Joe Ippolito, had the pleasure of interviewing one of queer porn's most notorious diva's, Courtney Trouble. Courtney, who started creating queer porn in 2002, did so in response to the lack of queer representation in more mainstream porn. At the time, her site IndiePornRevolution.com (then called NoFauxxx), to her surprise, soured in popularity, which immediately inspired her get even more involved in the industry.
Joe: What inspired you to start making queer porn, as opposed to more mainstream porn?
Courtney: I was never interested in making porn to make a bunch of money the way other people are drawn to the industry. I wanted to make a change in the world. I am not a mainstream person. I have tried to make it work with mainstream appeal but I always somehow mess it up!! My porn is queer and kinky and radical and most people totally love it once they find it!
Joe: In the mid 2000's, as a result of the Internet and the arrival of free YouTube style porn, the mainstream porn industry started to loose momentum, as well as lots of money. In what ways, did this shift impact or not the queer porn industry?
Courtney: You could call it a blessing in disguise, I suppose. Mainstream porn started to realize that people would no longer pay for the cookie-cutter porn they can find on tube sites, and the genres that are now popular (fan fiction, star-powered features, one-of-a-kind rough sex vignettes, creative directors, etc) are things that people are willing to pay for, because they are valuable beyond a wanking porn collection. They are also harder to torrent because they are such specific things, instantly recognizable by the people paid to find their company's porn on torrent. These days, your porn has to be special. You have to find your audience and speak right to them and their desires with your work. For me, the tube site format is actually a really inspiring tool for change. I run a tube site called QueerPornTube.Com that is entirely anti-piracy, but full of thousands of videos submitted by queer people from all over the world – home made masturbation videos made by trans people, real couples in their homes, art projects, porn projects by film makers, trailers for independently released films, exclusive content – all made by queer people representing themselves an their own sexualities and desires.
Joe: In what way, has the Internet helped or hindered the queer porn industry?
Courtney: I started my porn because of the internet. My original audience evolved from a body-positive bulletin board I ran with some friends who kept posting naked pics of themselves. I took that online community to the next level. The internet brings people with similar interests together. It can bring marginalized communities, such as queer people, together to form a larger presence in society – and also provide support for those who feel isolated. Queer porn is pretty much just an explicit version of that community building. I'm just not sure how it would exist without the internet.
Joe: Who is your porn star role model and why?
Courtney: Old and new, I do love a lot of people, but I can't say I've ever had a role model in this industry. Nobody does things the way I would do them. Nobody's paved my path for me, not the direction I'm going anyways. I owe a lot to the founding mothers of feminist porn (Annie, Scarlet, Candida, Carol, Nina – I love you). I owe a lot to Eon McKai for making alt porn with punk girls and punk sex portrayed on film. I am constantly inspired by Tristan Taormino and all of her work educating people on how to watch porn, how to support ethical porn, and also how to work this business ethically. And as for porn stars, there are quite a few that I've worked with that consistently inspire, delight, educate, and arouse me. Here's an abridged list: Jiz Lee, Billy Castro, Arabelle Raphael, James Darling, April Flores, Papi Coxxx, Dylan Ryan, Power Jones, Tobi Hill-Meyer… and a few mainstream stars I really look up to? Asa Akira, Kimberly Kane, Kenni Styles, Wolf Hudson, Ela Darling, Nikkie Hearts, Aiden Starr, and Sinn Sage are LA porn stars that keep it fucking real.
Joe: TROUBLEfilms was established in 2011, since this time, how many films have been produced?
Courtney: TROUBLEfilms, my production house, has at the time of this interview only 4 printed DVDs. However, by January, there will be 3 more.
Joe: If you had to pick, which TROUBLEFilms porn is your favorite and why?
Courtney: I am going to say the very first one, Live Sex Show, because it's the film that inspired me to make my own production house – one that doesn't censor itself for ratings or retail sales, one that doesn't pigeonhole or marginalise it's films or it's stars for the sake of niche marketing, one that treats it's performers with utmost respect, gives them the freedom of self-representation and authentic performance, and one that puts my porn on the map once and for all – the way it should be seen.
Joe: When it comes to trans and/or gender non-conforming people, what have you done as a director to ensure TROUBLEfilms porn is reflective of this experience in an embracing and genuine way?
Courtney: I am one of the only porn directors that creates a set and a scene around my performers instead of placing them into my own constructs. When you do that, you are placing more importance on authentic representation of self and of desire than you are on the marketability or popularity of the scene. My films are inspired by running themes and ideas in the work I'm already producing – instead of me saying, "Hey, I'm going to cast you in this movie about trans girls getting fisted by cis girls" I say, "wow, I sure have shot a lot of trans girls getting fisted by cis girls lately – maybe I should turn it into a movie." Do you see how that works? I let my performers drive my projects, they tell me what they want. I make it work. They have sex, I shoot it. By me allowing sex to happen in an organic way that pleasurable to all the performers involved, I get what I need in the end – great energy, great chemistry, real orgasms, and something I can sell to my audience, which is well trained enough at this point to embrace just about anything I make. I don't worry about how I'm going to market something before I shoot it. I'm not concerned with the lowest common denominator and how they find thier porn – I'm never going to label my work with derogatory terms to get customers.
Joe: What amazing projects should your viewers watch out for in the coming months?
Courtney: The rest of this year is going to be incredible for TROUBLEfilms – it's ALL about the girls. HARD FEMME drops on July 22nd – its the sequel to the Feminist Porn Award's 2013 winner of Hottest Dyke Film – Lesbian Curves! This one's a collection of super sexy, rough lesbian sex and BDSM with femmes all along the size spectrum – it's plush, lush, pretty, and really really kinky. Then this fall, Revolution Trans Grrrl Style Now comes out – Im shooting the finale scene for it this week at the SF Dyke March! That films all about trans girls and how they like to fuck. It's punk rock, alternative trans porn that I think will turn a lot of heads and be a REALLY fun movie to show around the world at film festivals… including it's premiere at Gender Reel! My finale this year will be a 4-girl orgy I shot with no cuts/editing, scripting, or instructions – it's just wall to wall sex starring 4 of my favorite porn stars, that one's called GIRL PILE!
Joe: Tell me about Queer Porn TV and it's connection to TROUBLEfilms?
Courtney: TROUBLEfilms doesn't just make DVDs, it's also a thriving web network of queer and indie porn sites, with QueerPorn.TV being the crowning glory of the company. QPTV is a dynamic porn project that is obbsessed with the celebrity of the Queer Porn Star. We work with simply the best, most enigmatic, creative performers in the scene and pit them together in riviting, boundary-pushing, genre-busting sex scenes. We also interview each and every one of them on thier sexuality, what makes them queer, what they love about porn, how they like to fuck. These interviews can be found for free here: http://queerporn.tv/wp/video-interviews
Courtney's latest porn, Revolution Trans Grrrl Style Now, will be screened at Gender Reel in September 2013. The film will be showcased at all four Gender Reel festivals, but you can only catch a Q&A with Courtney at the Oakland based event on Sept 20th, following the screening.